27 July, 2017
Parliamentary Sitting Summary 7th March 2017

Parliamentary Sitting Summary 7th March 2017

The Assembly reconvened on Tuesday 7th March at 9.00am. The following summary provides an overview of business which was put before the Assembly, Members who participated in debates and various issues which were raised in regards to particular Reports and Bills.

  • The Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2016 was withdrawn on a motion by the Hon Prime Minister.
  • 7 Annual Reports were tabled in accordance with Standing Order 49 by the Samoa Law Reform Commission; the Electric Power Corporation; Ministry for Revenue; Samoa Sports Facilities Authority; Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture; Samoa Housing Corporation and the Samoa Water Authority.
  • 3 Regulations were tabled; namely the notice of commencement of the Personal Property Securities Act 2013; Prisons and Corrections Amendment Regulations 2017 and the Ports Authority (Dues and Rates) Notice 2016.
  • The Samoa Water Authority tabled its Statement of Corporate Objectives 2017-2020.
  • 15 Parliamentary Committee Reports were tabled in accordance with Standing Order 52(5). These reports included 5 from the Finance and Expenditure Committee; 4 from the Standing Orders, Electoral, Petitions and Constitutional Offices Committee; 3 from the Economic Sector Committee and 3 from the Infrastructure Committee.
  • 4 Bills were introduced and first read, two of which were introduced as urgent: the Casino and Gambling Control Amendment Bill 2017 (urgent); the Public Service Amendment Bill 2017; Police Powers Amendment Bill 2017 (urgent) and the Tax Information Exchange Amendment Bill 2017.
  • Due to urgency, the Tax Information Exchange Amendment Bill 2017 and the Police Powers Amendment Bill 2017 were second read, considered in detail and third read on the same day. These two bills will become Acts of Parliament upon assent by the O Le Ao o le Malo.
  • The Casino and Gambling Control Amendment Bill 2017 and the Public Service Amendment Bill 2017 were second read and subsequently referred to Parliamentary Committees for scrutiny.

Overview of Bills considered by the Assembly:

  1. The Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2016 was considered in detail; The Hon Prime Minister moved a motion for the bill’s withdrawal because all clauses had to be amended. This is the first time Parliament has withdrawn a Bill at its consideration in detail stage due to the fact that the Bill had to be amended in its entirety as put forward by Committee recommendations.
  1. The Casino and Gambling Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced and second read and now stands referred to the Finance and Expenditure Committee for scrutiny. Members who participated in the debate included:
  1. Hon LAUOFO FONOTOE Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Member for Anoamaa West (HRPP);
  2. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
  3. Hon TUILAEPA Fatialofa Lupesoliai Aiono Neioti Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Member for Lepa (HRPP);
  4. OLO Fiti Afoa Vaai, Member for Salega East (Independent);
  5. LOPAOO Natanielu Mua, Member for Vaisigano No.1 (HRPP); and
  6. Hon LAUTAFI Selafi Fio Purcell, Minister for Public Enterprises and Member for Satupaitea (HRPP).

Issues raised by Members included the following:

  1. The Member for Anoamaa West stated that the gambling industry should be further developed as an additional means of revenue through encouraging a higher influx of tourists. He stated that the majority of casino goers in Samoa are foreigners, such as Indians, Fijians and Chinese as the law restricts casinos gambling to international passports holders.  The Member also suggested that additional casino licences be granted as there is currently only one casino in Samoa.
  2. The Member for Urban West stated that the Board should consider rewarding returning sports people who gained awards from sporting awards; for example, he suggested that Olympic silver medallists be given rewards for the efforts. He also stated that the bill should be reviewed to permit local residents with Samoan passports to be able to gamble in the casino.
  3. The Member for Salega East agreed with the Member for Urban West, stating that to increase revenue, local residents with Samoan passports should be permitted to gamble in the casino.
  4. The Minister for Public Enterprises stated that this would be an opportune time to revisit the Principal Act, and take account of issues that could be addressed for the future.
  5. The Hon Prime Minister stated that the restriction on Samoan passport holders was to protect citizens from possible gambling addictions; however, he did state that Member comments were duly noted.
  1. The Police Powers Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced as Urgent and was therefore second read, considered in detail and third read on the same day. Members who spoke on the bill included:
  1. Hon LAUOFO FONOTOE Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Member for Anoamaa West (HRPP);
  2. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
  3. SULUMANAIA Fetaiai Tauiliili Tuivasa, Member for Vaimauga East (HRPP);
  4. Hon TUILAEPA Fatialofa Lupesoliai Aiono Neioti Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Member for Lepa (HRPP);
  5. OLO Fiti Afoa Vaai, Member for Salega East (Independent);
  6. FUIMAONO Teo Samuelu Teo, Member for Falealili East (HRPP);
  7. LEAANA Ronnie Posini, Member for Safata West (HRPP); and
  8. AUMUA Isaia Lameko, Member for Falealili West (HRPP).

Issued raised by Members included the following:

  1. The Member for Anoamaa West stated that there should be an additional provision which provides for ‘urgent matters’, wherein referral to the Minister or Attorney General for warrants would be time consuming, and possibly life threatening in emergency situations.
  2. The Member for Urban West queried what would happen if the number of ‘permits’ requested by the Force outnumbered the amount of artillery in the Force’s possession. The Member also suggested that the proposed process for acquiring ‘permits’ is in fact harder than the process in place for civilians (such as farmers) to register weapons, which is quite absurd.
  3. The Member for Vaimauga East suggested that a provision be included which would permit Village Fonos to assist in police raids, if required.
  4. The Hon Prime Minister noted that Village Fono are already able to assist in police raids, but such efforts have often been unproductive; particularly in regards to loss of evidence before police personnel arrive on the scene. He also noted that the bill does not provide for ‘permits’, but rather for ‘warrants’.
  5. The Member for Salega East noted his support for the bill, but stated that referral to the Attorney General for warrants would cause unnecessary delays; particularly if the situation requires an immediate response from the Force.
  6. The Member for Falealili East suggested the inclusion of an enforcement date and expiry date for warrants, so as to ensure warrants are only used once. The Member also suggested that the Officer in charge of an operation make the final decision in terms of ‘urgent matters’, as opposed to the requirement that the approval come from the Minister of the Attorney General.
  7. The Member for Falealili West supported the suggestion put forward by the Member for Falealili East, for clarification of the expiration date of issued warrants.
  8. The Hon Prime Minister noted that issues raised by Members have been raised in previous Parliamentary sessions, but that they were duly noted once more.

The bill was considered in detail after second reading debates and then third read.  It will become an Act of Parliament upon the assent of the O Le Ao o le Malo.

  • The Tax Information Exchange Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced as urgent and therefore second read, considered in detail and third read on the same day. Members who spoke on the bill included the following:
  1. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
  2. Hon LAUOFO FONOTOE Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Member for Anoamaa West (HRPP);
  3. OLO Fiti Afoa Vaai, Member for Salega East (HRPP); and
  4. Hon TIALAVEA Fea Tionisio Hunt, Minister for Revenue and Member for Vaa o Fonoti (HRPP).

Issues raised by Members included the following:

  1. The Member for Urban West queried the reliability of the 17 signatories to the multilateral agreement in regards to the safety of exchanged tax information.
  2. The Member for Anoamaa West stated that countries attempt to monitor incoming funds in cases of money laundering or possible terrorism funding. The Member then queried whether the accounts which were required for ‘tax information’ exchanges included ‘cash transactions’.
  3. The Member for Salega East queried whether tax information would be available to the public on request. The Hon Minister stated that there are policies and regulations in place which prohibit the release of tax information to the public.

The bill was considered in detail after second reading debates and then third read.  It will become an Act of Parliament upon the assent of the O Le Ao o le Malo.

  1. The Public Service Amendment Bill 2017 was second read and subsequently referred to the Standing Orders, Electoral, Petitions and Constitutional Offices Committee for scrutiny. Members who spoke on the bill included the following:
  1. ALIIMALEMANU Alofa Tuuau, Member for Alataua West (HRPP);
  2. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
  3. LEALAILEPULE Rimoni Aiafi, Member for Faleata West (HRPP);
  4. SULUMANAIA Fetaiai Tauiliili Tuivasa, Member for Vaimauga East (HRPP); and
  5. AUMUA Isaia Lameko, Falealili West (HRPP).

Issues raised by Members included the following:

  1. The Member for Alataua West queried whether the bill had been proposed due to the Government’s lack of trust of the Public Service Commission. She further stated that the recruitment of CEOs and ACEOs constitutes a large part of the Commission’s work, if this is to be re-directed to Cabinet, it would leave the Commission with less than 50% of its usual work tasks which is not an ideal situation.
  2. The Member for Faleata West raised concerns over rejected applicants not being given a right of reply, or the right to query Cabinet decisions. He further stated that if it is the recruitment process that is defunct, or those in charge of overseeing the process, then those are the issues and/or people that should be changed.  He emphasised that the Government should not intervene in the appointment of ACEOs.
  3. The Member for Falealili West noted his support for the proposed changes to the recruitment process for ACEOs in the public service.
  1. The Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2016 was considered in detail; all 7 amendments put forward by the Finance and Expenditure Committee were approved. However, the Hon Prime Minister moved a motion for the bill’s withdrawal, to permit time for it to be re-drafted to incorporate the Committee’s amendments; the motion was carried.

Parliamentary proceedings were adjourned at 12.41pm.
The House will reconvene at 9:00am, Tuesday 30th May 2017.

 

 

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